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into the Australian way of life: : DATELINE SYDNEY

Always a Laugher for 'The Dream' Team

September 29, 2000|MIKE PENNER

Take heart, NBC. A tape-delay Olympic telecast is getting killer ratings in Australia, which proves the canned-action concept will work, provided you hire two Aussie smart-alecks to host the proceedings and trade that dated peacock logo for Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat.

It has become a nightly ritual inside the Main Press Center at Sydney's Olympic Park. At 11 p.m., televisions are tuned to network Seven's "The Dream," a two-hour satirical wrap-up of the day's Olympic action presented in inimitable style by the Australian comedy team of Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson.

For the next 120 minutes, the clack-clack-clack of writers working at their keyboards is interrupted, again and again, by fits of laughter echoing from cubicle to cubicle.

"The Dream" is a uniquely Australian production, very un-American, which is meant to be praise in its highest form. Every day, Seven brings the Olympic Games to Australia and every night at 11 it sends in Slaven and Nelson to slice up the preceding coverage into whimsical mincemeat.

Roy and H.G.--as all Aussies know them--serve up the Olympics on a twisted skewer. Close-up footage of Greco-Roman wrestlers sweating on one another is accompanied by the greatest hits of Barry White. The 1996 Olympics are referred to only as "the toilet of Atlanta." Roy and H.G. narrate men's gymnastics highlights, inventing their own ridiculous language for all of the ridiculous floor maneuvers: "Ohhh, that's a 'hello boys' in combination with a 'crazy date!' "

Unlike Seven's jingoistic, straight-faced coverage, Roy and H.G. regularly send up Aussie athletes. Sour tennis player Mark Philippoussis is known only as "the Poo,' and Roy and H.G. attached a tobacco pipe to the head of a bright red tennis racket, imploring the Poo to come on the show and smoke the tennis peace pipe with Pat Rafter.

Instead, Rafter eventually appeared alone on the show, where he revealed he was ignoring his doctor's advice to rest an injury.

H.G.: "That's wise. Doctors don't know anything about tennis."

A good sport, Rafter exchanged playful verbal volleys with the hosts. Delighted, Roy and H.G. presented Rafter with tokens of their sincere appreciation: an engraved Fatso pin . . . and a cheese platter.

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